Andrew Bynum's continued absence is becoming a major problem in the paint for the Philadelphia 76ers.
It's not likely to get any better against the Utah Jazz.
The 76ers hope to begin solving their issues under the basket and avoid a fourth straight home loss Friday night against the Jazz.
Philadelphia (4-4) acquired Bynum in a four-team, 12-player trade with the Los Angeles Lakers in the hopes that he would provide an inside presence.
However, the only place he's making his presence felt is in the training room, and a knee injury is expected to keep the oft-injured 7-footer sidelined until at least early January.
The 76ers clearly could use Bynum's size and scoring ability since they rank among the least productive teams in the paint at 33.5 points per game.
Coach Doug Collins has started either 6-foot-9 Lavoy Allen or journeyman Kwame Brown at center in Bynum's place. Neither has contributed very much, with Allen averaging 5.6 points and Brown 3.5.
Collins' team was held to 28 points under the basket, shot a season-worst 29.8 percent and was outrebounded 57-38 in Wednesday's 94-76 home loss to previously winless Detroit.
"It's not the end of the world," said center Spencer Hawes, who missed 4 of 5 shots to finish with five points. "We're going to get it right. We're going to get it back on track."
Facing Utah (4-5) isn't likely to solve the Sixers' biggest problem. The Jazz average 43.1 points in the paint, and are led by forward Paul Millsap and center Al Jefferson, who average 16.1 points and 15.0, respectively.
They're also a force on the boards, with Jefferson among the league leaders at 11.8 per game while Millsap isn't far behind at 9.7.
That doesn't bode well for Philadelphia, which has averaged 86.7 points during a three-game home losing streak.
The 76ers, though, have won the last two meetings against Utah at Wells Fargo Center, including a 104-91 victory in the most recent matchup March 9.
Thaddeus Young had 21 points in that game, but he hasn't scored more than 16 this season. He was held to a season-low four points on 2-of-11 shooting Wednesday.
Poor road play continues to be an issue for the Jazz, who have lost five of six away from home this season after going 11-22 in 2011-12.
They've split the first two of this four-game trip after falling 98-93 at Boston on Wednesday, despite a 48-33 advantage on the boards.
"We proved that we can fight. That's the difference between the Celtics and us right now. They know how to seal the game," Jefferson said. "That's what we've got to get to. Playing these type of teams, it's going to help us get there. Now, we know what to do. So, we just need to go and try and take care of these next two games on the road."
After visiting Philadelphia, Utah concludes the trip at winless Washington on Saturday.
Millsap is doing his part, averaging 17.8 points on the road after totaling 54 with 21 rebounds while hitting 20 of 37 from the field in the first two games of this trip.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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